Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Mulgrew AGAIN Defends Advance APPR Teacher Evaluation System In An Email

They must be feeling some pressure down at 52 Broadway this week, as teachers who haven't been following the ins-and-outs of the teacher evaluation system battles got their first detailed look at the Advance APPR system and learned just how insanely complex, convoluted and unworkable it is, because UFT President Michael Mulgrew has now sent out two emails defending the system.

The first one was entitled "Getting Started With The New Teacher Evaluation System" and was sent to teachers on September 4.

In that email, Mulgrew defended the new teacher evaluation system as "clear in its intent to support the work teachers do inside the classroom" and promised teachers "that is exactly how we plan to see it used in New York City."

Mulgrew claimed the the new system "has multiple measures, including observations and the local measures of student learning," so that claims it is fixated on test scores alone are false.

But as I noted yesterday 

He keeps saying this system has "multiple measures of evaluation" - but when test scores trump all else (get declared "ineffective" on the test score components and you have to be declared "ineffective" overall!) , there are no multiple measures of evaluation.

In effect, the 40% testing component is 100% if you come up "i-rated" on it.

In addition, while Mulgrew claimed the "local measures" component of the evaluation system is one of those "multiple measures" that make the system something other than test score-fixated, many schools are using test scores as their local measures.

In some cases, teachers outside of ELA and math licenses are being evaluated on the test scores of their students on ELA and math tests for the local measure component.

Mulgrew can claim the system has"multiple measures" of so-called teacher effectiveness all he wants - the fact is 40% of the evaluation system is made up of test scores and if you get dinged "ineffective" on that 40%, you HAVE to be rated "ineffective" overall.

And they still haven't finished completing how the local measures are going to be calculated.

Someone said yesterday when you go to the Advance website for how the system is going to work, it is mostly empty of details.

There are no calculation models, no growth model information, no details of how the performance assessments that may be used for the local measures will be graded, handled and stored.

In actuality, the DOE is still making this system up as they go even though high stakes decisions are going to be made using this system that remains a work-in-progress.

As teachers began to learn the full details of the system this week, many have become outraged that the union would ever agree to anything like this.

In my department, every teacher - every one - criticized the new system as "insane," "unworkable," and the "handiwork of people who have never taught more than a short period of time."

I have heard from other people around the system that many teachers were reacting that way this week as well.

And so, the union is feeling some pressure and Michael Mulgrew is feeling some pressure, enough that he decided to write a second email today entitled "The Challenges Ahead" again telling us how wonderful this new system is:

Furthermore, we have to make the new teacher evaluation system about supporting the work we do in the classroom every day, not a gotcha system — and we will work with the new administration to see that it does.

Notice the emphasis on working with a new administration to make sure the new evaluation system is not used as a "gotcha system" in Mulgrew's statement.

That is an implicit acknowledgement that the system as devised, with it's 4-6 observations a year using the Danielson rubric with the 22 domains, with the 40% testing component that in effect becomes 100% if you're declared "ineffective" on both the state and local test parts, can indeed be used as a "gotcha" system.

It was clear to all the teachers in my department this week that this is exactly what the system is.

One teacher, noting the impossibility of getting rated "highly effective" on Danielson and the difficulty of getting "effective" on all three parts, said the system seemed devised to have as many teachers as possible come up "ineffective" or "developing."

And indeed, that was the premise that the NYSED and the Regents started with when they developed this system - most teachers suck, so let's create a system that shows that.

It's the same thing they did with the 3rd-8th grade Common Core tests - they started with the premise that most students are "failures," they devised a grading scheme for the tests that would bear that premise out, then released the scores showing widespread drops in scores all across the state.

It's all part of their propaganda work to "prove" to parents and the public that schools are failing, students are failing, teachers are failing and something drastic must be done to solve the problems in the system.

The drastic solutions they have in mind are charterization of as many schools as possible, wholesale takeovers of school districts, the busting of all teacher work protections, the end of tenure (which they already have effectively accomplished with the new APPR system anyway - two straight "ineffective" ratings and you're fired!), even more testing in the system, the complete standardization of teaching practice across the state - these are the solutions they are working toward at the NYSED and the Regents.

Our unions - the AFT, the NYSUT and Mike Mulgrew's UFT - have been complicit in the destruction of the system by not fighting this radical agenda being promoted by the NYSED and the Regents, by not pointing out the absurdities and unworkability of the new APPR system, by not fighting to have this system abolished and replaced with something that actually isn't a rigged "gotcha" system.

Alas, our union leaders dropped the lawsuit against APPR (one which they won in the lower courts) and hailed the system back in February 2012 as an improvement over the old one.

The UFT has attacked critics of the system, like Diane Ravitch and Carol Burris, rather than try and fix the problems in the system or, better yet, have it scrapped totally.

And now, as NYC teachers start to realize how badly they are going to be screwed by the Advance APPR system, Mulgrew has his propaganda writers working overtime to churn out Daily News opinion pieces and staff emails he can put his name to defending the new system.

Propaganda will not fool teachers into thinking a crap system is anything other than crap.

The UFT leadership is used to blustering their way through issues, jiving people with lies and misinformation or propaganda.

But they will not be able to lie, misinform or propagandize their way through APPR.

This week, teachers saw for their own eyes the insanity of the system, the convoluted state and local measures components that nobody seems to understand, not the Tweedies, not the UFT, not even John King,  the unworkability of all the observations, the rigged nature of using all 22 Danielson domains for evaluations.

Mulgrew can send all the emails he wants out to members.

He won't be able to fool people anymore now that they have the Advance APPR system noose - a noose partly devised with the help of Mike Mulgrew and the UFT - around their necks.

Lucky for us we have Julie Cavanagh at MORE to send out information for how teachers can protect themselves and their colleagues as best they can from this new "gotcha" system.

You can read that information here and contrast it with the "information" Mulgrew and the UFT leadership have sent you about the new system.

Then, in three years time, remember which union leader really looks out for teachers and schools and which is complicit in the destruction of the public school system and the teaching profession.


  1. Mulgrew is corrupt.

    Teachers are SICKENED after seeing the Advance presentation today by a "talent coach" .

    It absolutely is a GOTCHA system. Teachers have had it with all the lies.

    1. That was my take on it this week as well. Teachers who used to be very apolitical have gotten radicalized by what has been done to them and what will continue to be done to them via APPR. There is a lot of anger out there - much of it at Mulgrew and the UFT for not protecting teachers but rather keeping teachers in the dark about the system details for as long as possible.

  2. The talent coach making the Advance presentation coldly responded to teachers' concerns:

    "It is the LAW now in the state of New York".

    In other words TOO BAD

    1. Actually the 40% test score component isn't the law - it's above and beyond the law as written. The unions successfully sued to stop that part of the component when King and Tisch tried to ram it through. But then they caved to Cuomo and agreed to it...

    2. It is the law now. Look at the commissioner's regulations, which is how the law is implemented and 40%=100% is there.

  3. Yesterday, instead of having time to prepare for the kids coming on Monday, we were subjected to "professional development" on Danielson that was an insulting waste of time, discussing things that should be self-evident to a college freshman, rather than a staff of experienced teachers in a highly successful school.

    Just as one must always ask where the incompetence of the DOE ends and its malice begins, so too we must ask of the UFT/AFT/NYSUT, where does the incompetence end and the corruption begin?

    In both cases, I'd say very early on.

    1. All the acronyms - DOE, SED, AFT, NYSUT, UFT - all CORRUPT.

  4. During pd's Tue/Wed my principle came in with ap's and stated, "I honestly don't have a clue as to what is going on." With that I went to the blackboard and wrote 40=100. After relating what the bottom line was, teachers were absolutely speechless. The UFT rep said nothing!

    1. Not much for the UFT rep to say. 40=100. APPR=screwed.

    2. UFT is ignoring the 40%=100% and telling people to do busywork to earn Danielson points. It is in none of their literature.

    3. Of course - they don't want anybody to know about it. The reality is, if you're at a school that doesn't score well on the DOE progress reports, you're screwed. Your 20% test score is going to come up "ineffective" and if the local measures picked by your school is based on Regents scores at all, you can come up "ineffective" on that measure to. Won't matter what you do on Danielson then.

    4. Whole staffs are going to come up ineffective.

    5. That's possible in some schools, yes. Especially if the whole staff is having the local measure based on school-wide Regents or state test scores.

  5. The workload on teachers is flat out abusive. We have had increased paperwork, no contract and a new evaluation system imposed on us without a single member voting for it. If this does not rally teachers nothing will. I believe MORE has a petition on APPR (a moratorium on evaluations). It is important to get as many signatures as possible.

  6. Thank you
    MORE does have a petition calling for an immediate moratorium to stop this tremendously flawed evaluation scheme.
    Please Sign here online
    distribute this paper copy at your school
    Stay tuned for our first day of action on 10/9 and additional literature to distribute at your school.
    Thanks to RBE for continued support and AWESOME posts that tell the truth about evals, CCSS, Danielson, VAM, and this corporate led reform.

    1. I'll put up a post later about the petition. Thanks for reminding me! So much going on these days, with the election, the start of school, APPR and Common Core, I forgot that I hadn't posted about the petition.

  7. Danielson not being used as a "support" but a tool to destroy a teacher.
    Unannounced informal observations will definitely be used as a tool against teachers principal hates.

    Artifacts will only be expected from teachers that are targeted.

    Many teachers in school building will be rated Developing or Ineffective.

    And UFT backs this????? Time for new UFT leaders.

    1. I agree with everything you say. Everything.

    2. Notice how the UFT was running around in March with efforts to get people interested in the mayoral election, but put very little effort into announcing, promoting the union's election.
      Folks, go here for real teacher organizing: Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE).

    3. That's a great point - Mulgrew kept playing like he was going to be kingmaker. We'll see how things go on Tuesday, but it's starting to seem like he's not so hot in the kingmaking department. Maybe that will change if Thompson outperforms the public polls...

  8. Check out the photo montage of Tisch & Thompson, re APPR at
    Feel free to snatch it as a reminder for 9/10's primary.

    1. I will, Geo. I'll do something on it on Monday morning as a reminder.